Celebrating 20 Years Protecting the Environment 

2014 VEC Public Meetings: January 15, February 19, March 19 (Annex), April 9 (Firemen's room), May 21, June 18, September 17, October 15, November 19 (Annex) and December 17 (Firemen's room). The commission meets once a month on Wednesday from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at the Verona Community Center located at 880 Bloomfield Ave., Verona, NJ 07044. The public is welcome to attend. 

All VEC members are Verona residents, serve without compensation and are appointed by the Mayor. Join us in protecting Verona's environment for the health and well being of all. Going "Green" together is easy. Contact us at veronaenvironmental@gmail.com or write to: Verona Environmental Commission, 6oo Bloomfield Avenue, Verona, New Jersey 07044.

 VEC News
April 26th, 2014
Verona Volunteers Needed!

Earth Day - Verona Woods Clean-Up

Gather at 9 am behind F.N. Brown School field by the trail. 

The Verona Environmental Commission invites the community to help clean up our open spaces on Saturday, April 26 from 9 am to 12 noon. To register a group for participation, please send an email to veronaenvironmental@gmail.com - Walk-ins are also welcome. Dress to get messy, wear boots or old sneakers. We will supply gloves, rakes, garbage bags and recycling bins. Please bring your gardening tools to help control invasive plants. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.  The Peckman River originates in West Orange and flows northeasterly through Verona, Cedar Grove and Little Falls to its confluence with the Passaic River in the borough of Woodland Park. Help keep our Peckman River clean by removing garbage from the surrounding areas.

First VEC Student Member
At its April 7 meeting, the Town Council unanimously appointed Julia Capuano as an Environmental Commission Alternate Member. Julia is the first student member since the commission was established over 20 years ago. Julia is a sophomore at Verona High School and a member of VHS Environmental Club. She feels protecting the environment for ourselves and future generations is crucial and she plans on attending college for environmental science. Julia has been attending the VEC public meetings for the past few months and she is currently collaborating in recycling and clean up projects. The VEC congratulates Julia Capuano on her new appointment!

The Commission Welcomes New Member
At its March 3 meeting, the Town Council unanimously approved Ms. Pearson as a full voting member of the VEC. During its March 19 VEC public meeting at the Verona Community Center VEC Chair Machnowski congratulated Pearson on her new appointment. Since Ms. Pearson joined the commission as an alternate in October 2013 she has repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to the environment of Verona and the work of the VEC. She has put in countless hours researching issues we face. We are proud to count her as one of our members and look forward to her contributions.

Bicycles Wanted!

You can donate your unwanted bicycles to either Pedals For Progress  or The Boys and Girls Club of Newark. Bikes in any condition are wanted by both organizations and will be restored, or repurposed in a myriad of ways. Pedals for Progress also wants sewing machines. 
  • The Boys and Girls Club Bike Exchange is located at 239 Washington Street in Newark - Phone: (862) 236.3920 - e-mail: BikeExchange@bgcn.org
  • P4P schedule collections periodically, contact Bev to schedule your collection - Phone: (908) 638-4811 - e-mail: bev@p4p.org

The VEC at the Fair
The commission participated in Verona Fair in the Square on December 7th. The VEC table was busy all day long with residents of all ages. Visitors learned about Sustainable Jersey, a free certification program for municipalities that want to go green and save money in the process. Verona recently joined the program. Many residents signed up to volunteer in the Green Team, a new commission that will coordinate Verona's sustainability efforts. Children took the Kid's Green Challenge and everybody got a Sustainable Jersey pin and signed the 2014 Verona Pledge promising to recycle more, save water, eat more veggies, use reusable bags, walk more and drive less. Pictured, VEC members informing residents about Sustainable Jersey.

Proclamation for Shimonaski
On December 16 the former Chair of the VEC, Gerard Shimonaski, was honored with a proclamation by the Verona Town Council. The Council surprised him with a certificate of appreciation recognizing his 10 years of service and 6 years as the chairman on the Verona Environmental Commission. Shimonaski is the current Vice-Chair on the VEC and on the Verona's Public Safety Committee and he also serves as the township representative to the County Solid Waste Advisory Council (SWAC). He is pictured here with Town Council members and former and current VEC members. Congratulations Jerry!
Verona joined Sustainable Jersey
On Nov. 18 the VEC presented the program Sustainable Jersey to the Town Council and formally asked to create a resolution to register Verona in the program. The council's feedback was very positive. Verona became the 400th municipality in the state to join the program and the 20th Essex County municipality. Sustainable Jersey was launched in 2009 and it is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term. There are over 125 actions that our municipality can earn points for in the Sustainable Jersey program. See the list of all the new actions in the Sustainable Jersey Overview Brochure. It is a free program that can help Verona do more of the work that it has been doing to improve the environment in Verona. It will give us preferred access to grant money and guidance on best practices to make Verona more environmentally friendly at a lower cost, saving money for our taxpayers. Once Verona joins the program we will need a Green Team to coordinate our sustainability efforts. If you would like to get involved please contact the commission at veronaenvironmental@gmail.com

Verona Public Library Exhibit 
Students' posters submitted to the contest "Idle Free Verona" are currently on display until December 2nd, 2013 at the Verona Public Library (17 Gould Street). 

The posters are organized by participating school. Everyone is welcome to visit the exhibit during regular library hours, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Monday, Tuesday & Thursday), 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Wednesday, Friday & Saturday) and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Sunday).

Pictured here Children's Librarian Cheryl Ashley at the exhibit with children. 

Happy 20th Anniversary, VEC!
The Verona Environmental Commission is celebrating its 20 Year Anniversary. The VEC was established by Ordinance No. 9-92 on August 3, 1992. To commemorate the occasion a shade tree was planted by the Community Center's playground on October 2013.

The tree is a wonderful 12 feet tall White Oak (Quecus alba L.) White oaks are native to eastern North America and found from Maine to Minnesota southward to Florida and Texas. It is a large, stately tree that can grow from 80 to 100 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter around the trunk. It grows upright and produces acorns which are a good food source for wildlife. White oak is an excellent ornamental tree because of its broad round crown, dense foliage, and purplish-red to violet-purple fall color. Specimens have been documented to be over 450 years old!!

The commission would like to thank Hillcrest Farms and the township for supporting this initiative and specially Verona's Director of Community Services, Jim Cunningham and Department of Public Works Superintendent Chuck Molinaro. Happy 20th Anniversary, VEC!

Horticultural Vinegar
To reduce the presence of poison ivy at the schools, Paul McDevitt, Verona's director of public school facilities uses horticultural vinegar. Although horticultural vinegar is an organic product that you can order on-line and notification of its application is not required the BOE provided a notification . If you see a BOE employee using a spray dispenser on either weeds or poison ivy, please know that this is the horticultural vinegar being applied and not a chemical based weed killer. The Material Safety Data Sheet is posted on the Buildings and Grounds page of the district website. The VEC also recommended to use this product at Verona Pool and during the Aug. 12 Council Meeting, the Town Manager announced that they will. Common chemical pesticides contain glyphosate and are acutely toxic to humans. Glyphosate has been linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. It was described as "extremely persistent" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Well done Verona!   

Township Trees

All those trees planted in the curb strips along most streets are Township Trees. Also, in a few specific locations just inside the sidewalks, right of way, and in public recreation areas. Verona has been a Tree City for 26 consecutive years.Request for Township planting, pruning and removal should be made by calling Public Works at 973-857-4804. To learn more about The Verona Shade Tree Commission, our Township Trees and how to help them please READ HERE. Residents are encouraged to contact the police at 911 to report any emergency and (973) 239-5000 regarding any police related matter. Trees or power lines that have come down should be reported.

ANJEC Award for the VEC

The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) held their 39th Annual Environmental Congress in October at the Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. Governor James Florio was the keynote speaker and workshop topics included Restoring Living Shorelines, Reducing Vehicle Emissions, Planning for Weather Extremes and Green Infrastructure. The VEC won a 2012 Environmental Achievement Award for the video and program "Go Idle Free Verona". ANJEC described the project as "a perfect example of the scope a commission can achieve with enthusiastic volunteers!". VEC members created this video with help from the H. B. W. Middle School Environmental Club. The VEC would like to congratulate the following students, pictured above during the video shoot: Benjamin Greene, Jewel Chu, Andrew Daddio, Jaclyn Marrese, Emma Kubacki, Erin McNally, Nina Machnowski, Anna and Lucas Konrad-Parisi.

ANJEC President, Nelson Dittmar Jr., pictured right, presented the award to VEC Chairman Gerard Shimonaski, Vice-Chair Gloria Machnowski and VEC Council Liaison Kevin Ryan. Also the environmental commissions from Cranford, Hawthorne, Hightstown, Manalapan, Plumsted, Roxbury and Secaucus received environmental awards this year. The Kinnelon, Westville and Washington Township Environmental Commissions received honorable mentions and four nonprofit organizations received awards. Congratulations to all!

Go Styrofoam Free!

We annually dump almost two million tons of petroleum-based food packaging! Foam plates, cups and trays are made from expanded polystyrene foam (also known as Styrofoam), which never decomposes. Polystyrene is not accepted for recycling in Verona. Please reduce the amount of polystyrene waste that you generate. Verona Public Schools' Cafeterias recently stopped using polystyrene foam dishes.  "The Verona School District will be using a recycled fiber-board product for school lunches in 2012-2013." said Verona Superintendent of Schools Mr. Forte. "This is a big move away from plastics and I agree it is an important move for the environment" he added. The VEC congratulates the BOE for this green initiative, and the HBW student Lucas Konrad-Parisi who presented the petition last June 19th. In short, Styro has got to go!

Pesticide Notification

At the July 16th Council Meeting it looked like Verona was moving towards pesticide-free maintenance for public fields (more details HERE). But on September 1st the following chemicals were applied to H. B.W. Middle School and Verona High School fields: TruPower3, Merit 27, Talstar Insecticide, and 19-0-2 Fertilizer. The same day the Community Center, Linn Drive Field and Town Square were treated as well. TruPower 3 is considered by the EPA to have a toxicity category 1 -the most toxic- and has been banned from use in cities such as Albany, New York since 1999. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) procedures are mandatory for schools in NJ since 2004 and calls for non-pesticide pest management methods to be used whenever possible. "The VEC believes that it is critical, for the health of our children and teenagers, for our government and our fellow citizens to understand that it is possible to have playable fields without the use of toxic chemicals" said the VEC Chairman at the Sep. 4th Council Meeting. "We further ask that the Verona Township government commit now to converting all playing fields to pesticide-free maintenance, beginning immediately" he added. You can read the complete VEC statement HERE .

Forest Ave. School celebrated Earth Day on 2012 by holding three SCA hands-on Composting Presentations for all students, from Kindergarten through 4th Grade. You can view the pdf version HERE. Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. The children learned how to reduce waste and save money by composting food and yard waste. During the program they ate fruits and collected their banana peels, apple cores, watermelon rinds, etc. Later on all students visited the school's compost bin to contribute their food waste. The final product, a natural fertilizer, will be used in the school's gardens. Pictured, 4th Grade teacher Mrs. Gero with students visiting the school compost bin. For more information please read our composting page.

NJ Fertilizer Law

The New Jersey Fertilizer Law, A2290, establishes statewide fertilizer standards and requires professional fertilizer applicators to undergo training and become certified. It prohibits fertilizer application during or just before heavy rainfall and limits the time that fertilizer can be used. Fertilizer may not be applied from November 15th to March 1st for consumers, and December 1st to March 1st for professionals. It also restricts the amount of nitrogen used and fertilizer content. Fines for noncompliance are $500 for the 1st offense and up to $1000 for the 2nd and each subsequent offense for professional applicators.The Fertilizer Law is really about water quality. It still allows you to feed your lawn, but in a way that avoids adverse impact on NJ waters.Here you can read information for homeowners about this law. READ MORE

Green Friendly Site

VEC Annual Report: Please read it HEREThe township encourages all residents to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost as much of their household waste as possible. The Verona Recycling Center is located at 10 Commerce Court in Verona (map) and it is open 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. For more information please visit our Solid Waste and Recycling page or refer to the 2014 Verona Garbage and Recycling Schedule. You can access a live feed from Nixle here

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VEC Videos:

Wastewater Treatment Facility: the commission produced this 8-minute video, please watch it to learn how you can help protect our waterways (click on the lower right corner icon for full screen).

Go Idle Free Verona is the new 2 minute video from the VEC and it is part of the commission's campaign against unnecessary vehicle idling. The video was entirely shot and edited by VEC members in Verona. The commission would like to especially thank the HBW Environmental Club and the kids from Verona for their participation and support. We invite you to watch it and learn how you can help to enhance Verona's air quality (click on the lower right corner icon for full screen). An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling at 30 miles per hour! NJ State Law prohibits idling more than three minutes for both diesel and gasoline non-emergency vehicles. Please Turn the Key -Be Idle Free!

Help Verona save money and go green. Click "play" below to watch our new video Verona Recycling. Please reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can in Verona.

Let’s encourage kids to walk to school and support them by improving air quality and safe driving. Please watch our video presentation Idle Free Verona and spread the word!

VEC Programs:

Do You Have a Treasured Tree?

Do you have one of Verona's great trees in your yard? The VEC is accepting nominations for Verona's Treasured Trees. This program recognizes beautiful, mature trees and the homeowners who care for them. If you would like to nominate a tree please e-mail us. Homeowners whose trees are designated as Treasured Trees receive a tree plaque and the tree is included in our  "Virtual Tree Tour". One of the easiest ways to enhance our urban environment is to plant a tree. We encourage residents to plant native trees such as Oaks and Redbuds. They thrive with minimal attention and provide shelter and food to local wildlife. Click HERE for a list of wonderful native trees suitable for planting in our area. Pictured, a 2011 Treasured Tree, a majestic Red Oak located at 21 Anne Street in Verona. Trees do amazing things. Did you know 95% of the water trees drink gets evaporated into the atmosphere? Watch the video HERE
2013 Contest Winners 

2013 HBW Winner
The Award Ceremony for the 5th Annual Idle Free Verona Poster Contest took place at Town Hall on November 4th. Winners received $50 dollars and a certificate signed by Verona Mayor. Pictured here from left to right: Maxine Haralambiev (H. B. Whitehorne Middle School),  Mark Serra (Laning Ave. School), Wednesday Fischer (Brookdale Ave. School), Amelia Koellhofer (Forest Ave. School) and Peter Popowich (F. N. Brown School). Top row: Deputy Mayor Jay SniatkowskiCouncilman Kevin Ryan, Mayor Bob Manley, Councilman Michael Nochimson and Councilman Frank Sapienza.  

To see all winning posters please click HEREVerona public school students submitted over 140 posters to the contest on October 9, Walk to School Day. The posters were exhibited at schools and they will be displayed at the Verona Public Library. You can see all the posters in this VIDEO. The video was presented at the award ceremony and it is currently on Verona TV. Congratulations to all participants for helping reduce air pollution!

Did You Know? 
An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling at 30 miles per hour! Vehicle exhaust causes allergies, cancer, asthma and bronchitis. Up to 25% of NJ school-aged children are asthmatic. Idling for more than 3 minutes is against the law in New Jersey! Please turn OFF your car wherever you’re parked and waiting. Ready, Set, STOP Your Engines! Picture here HBW poster contest winner.

VEC Petition: Verona residents Rose Saltalamacchia and Gabby Discafani presented the petition Verona-NJ Safe Playing Fields at the December 17th Council Meeting. Over 200 Verona residents already signed the petition, in person and on-line. In the document the Verona Environmental Commission asks Verona Town Council and Board of Education to stop using toxic synthetic lawn pesticides on all school grounds and public sport fields where children play. Councilmen Sniatkowski and Nochimson called for a two to three year commitment of pesticide free, organic field maintenance. Councilman Ryan mentioned the need to include the BOE in this commitment. All councilmen agreed and the VEC congratulates them all for it! The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a report about Pesticide Exposure in Children. Pesticides can cause cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects and reproductive problems, and should not be applied just for the sake of cosmetic appearances. Pictured, gorgeous Bergen Community College sport field maintained without pesticides. Learn more HERE.

Recycling Campaign

The VEC put together a presentation about Verona's Recycling Programs for all elementary schools in town. The content and pictures were generated locally by VEC members targeting third and fourth grade students, as requested by Frank Albano, Laning Avenue School Principal. After receiving the approval of Charles Sampson, former Superintendent of Verona Public Schools, the VEC presented this program at the following schools: Forest Ave., Laning Ave. (pictured here), F.N.Brown, Brookdale Ave. and Our Lady of the Lake. The Verona Recycling Center located at 10 Commerce Ct. is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. And reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can. Recycling questions, call 973-857-4804. For more information contact us. READ MORE

Forest Avenue School celebrated Earth Day by hosting four Recycling Workshops on 2013. Students Grade 1 through 4 participated in hands-on presentations organized by the school SCA and the Verona Environmental Commission. Students demonstrated how to flatten corrugated cardboard boxes to be dropped off at the Verona Recycling Center. They sorted out items for recycling collection learning the difference between aluminum and tin cans, corrugated cardboard and paper board, etc. They learned about household hazardous waste and items made with 100% recycled content. Sometimes recycling can be a bit confusing, but now students are experts on Verona's Recycling Programs! Pictured student Stephanie Zimany sorting recyclable items.

Verona's Earth Day

The VEC celebrated Earth Day on April 14th at the Verona Recycling Center. Residents brought their recyclable items and chatted about local environmental matters. Fabric canvas bags with the Verona logo were distributed free of charge as well as Township recycling bins and barrels. Pictured below is Verona resident Jane Niven receiving a recycling barrel from VEC member Tony Saltalamacchia . To see more pictures of this event please click HERE.

Reusable Shopping Bags

Neither paper nor plastic disposable bags are the best choice. Choosing reusable canvas bags and using them over and over is the way to go! Pictured from left Recycling Center Supervisor Michael Inglesino, VEC Chairman Shimonaski and VEC Member Saltalamacchia distributing canvas bags during Verona's Eart Day celebration. Read the article here. 

Recycling in Verona Park 

Verona Park is now greener, thanks to Essex County officials having installed several recycling bins there. Now you can recycle paper, glass and plastic in the park. The Verona Park Conservancy organizes annual cleanups usually on April and the annual Hilltop Cleanup Day is organized by the Hilltop Conservancy.